The Perfect Shepherd
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 10:1-2 (Holman) AI assure you: Anyone who doesn=t enter the sheep pen by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.@
The Pharisees claimed to be the shepherds of Israel. Since Jesus had no commission from them, they considered Him an usurper and imposter. But they, because of their blindness, were the self-appointed intruders.
They had proved they could not lead effectively (9:39-41). They were bogus shepherds, thieves, robbers.
Having no concern for the sheep, they were selfish. Their hearts never broke over the wants and woes of the flock. Their casting out the healed blind beggar (John 9) exemplified the way they treated weaker sheep.
Jesus used their harshness as a backdrop against which He contrasted His own gentleness, the nature of a true shepherd. In John 10 Jesus set forth the proper conduct and genuine service all true leaders show.
Any who want to be good leaders must sympathize with those they seek to lead. Jesus preached this, and exemplified it. He cared so much for the flock that He entered the fold, became as one of the sheep (John 1:14) that He might be a sacrifice for them.
The ability to lead well lies in compassion. Influence is best displayed through service. They who love are they who lead. We have few genuine leaders because most try to build authority on being bossy.
A true shepherd cares for the welfare of the flock. We who are Pastors (the Latin word for shepherd) must be especially aware of this.
We shall give an account for how well or poorly we tended our flock (I Peter 5:3-4). We must be worthy of being followed. The same is true of all church leaders.
John 10:3 AThe doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.@
Sheep are willing to follow a shepherd because they learn to trust him, and become dependent on him. H. V. Morton tells of seeing a shepherd who wanted to travel on, but his flock had found rich grass to feed on and refused to follow. The shepherd walked on and disappeared behind a hedge.
Within seconds the sheep realized they had lost their shepherd. Panic spread across the herd. When the shepherd heard their restless sounds he let out his call, reappeared, and walked on. The herd stampeded to follow him.
In our day, sheep are often kept mainly for slaughter, but in Jesus= day they were raised primarily for their fleece. Hence, a shepherd often had the same sheep for years, giving time for relationships to develop.
Sheep loved their shepherd because he loved them. If a shepherd found a sheep weak, wounded, or tired, he carried it on his shoulders or in his arms.
If a lamb was prone to wander, the shepherd would sometimes break its leg and then carry it in his arms for weeks. This caused the sheep to become used to being near the shepherd and kept it from straying away later.
Jesus is our perfect Shepherd. Every step we take He has gone before us. He never drives from behind, but always leads and beckons.
Jesus has always gone before us, even into the dangers of temptation. Since He never yielded to temptation, He endured its worst and most potent strength.
He led us by teaching us forgiveness when He forgave His enemies. He went before us, teaching us how to carry a cross by bearing His own. He arose from the dead, and we His sheep shall follow His lead.
John 10:4 AWhen he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.@
Sheep eagerly follow their shepherd, because they know His voice. Well acquainted with him, each sheep feels importance. God cares for the church as a whole, also recognizes each individual member.
General Sherman=s army once marched past a house, regiment after regiment, thousands upon thousands paraded by, all dressed in identical clothing. The lady of the house finally said, AI reckon you don=t all have names.@ To her it seemed impossible each soldier was a distinct, separate identity. She would have been even more incredulous had she been told someone knew each soldier by name.
God knows each and every one of us by name. Even the hairs of our head are numbered.
John 10:5 AThey will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don=t recognize the voice of strangers.@
God=s sheep have spiritual discernment. They hear and respond to God=s authentic word. They will not listen to bogus shepherds who contradict the Lord.
Shepherds each have their own unique call. They depend totally on their call to gather their flock from other herds in the fold. However intermingled the sheep herds become, a shepherd=s call would bring his sheep out.
A traveler in the Holy Land once put on a shepherd=s garments and tried to imitate his call, but the sheep remained motionless. The true shepherd, wearing the visitor=s clothes, then gave his call, and they all ran to him.
If a stranger tries to mimic the shepherd, as the sheep approach and recognize duplicity, they run away in fright. We need to do the same. Many voices call for our affection. All are bogus except one.
A shepherd was asked, AWill your flock never follow anybody but you?@ The shepherd replied, ASometimes a sheep gets sick and then he will follow any one.@ This is also painfully true of Christ=s flock.